It’s no secret that a shortage of chips continues to plague OEM’s who are trying to produce vehicles. According to consumer reports, this remains a concern, given that the average car (not even top-line trim levels) uses as many as 36 chips. It’s estimated that the chip shortage will cost the global automotive industry more than 110 billion in revenue in 2021 alone. That’s a lot of chips to power all of the features that OEMs continue to add to their lineup.

So, the question is, do we really need all of these “smart features”? We should take this question seriously, considering that drivers use less than 30% of the vehicle’s features! Could reducing features in vehicles help move production along, delivering the much-needed inventory to dealers?

If you’ve ever been on TikTok, you’d see thousands of videos dedicated to “features you didn’t know you had.” Seriously, take a look. Just the other day, I learned that some vehicles can charge your key-fob?! But is that really a necessary feature when you can easily purchase a replacement battery? Other features that could be removed to save chips and move production along are motorized rear-view mirrors, moisture-sensitive windshield wipers, paddle shifters, heads-up displays, rear-seat entertainment systems, & touchpad controllers to name a few.

Let’s ask ourselves when the last time we honestly used paddle shifters was? I can say NEVER! Think about it, have you ever sat at a red light and thought about the times before “smart” cars? Probably not. That’s not to say, though, that there aren’t standard features used daily and should remain. Features like CarPlay, Bluetooth, Autonomous Braking, and your Backup Camera.

Going back to 2013, when Bluetooth, Backup Cameras, and Navigation were a new rage, you’d have customers calling in to verify if they had these features before agreeing to make a purchase. Today though, both Bluetooth and Backup Cameras are required, and most OEMs are including CarPlay in their vehicle lineup. Beyond those core features, how many customers today call in to verify if the vehicle has moisture sensing windshield wipers, heads-up display, and rear-seat entertainment systems? In fact, some OEMs have already made the shift in reducing features in their vehicles to assist in production easing inventory concerns. A shift that could become standard as we continue to navigate these unprecedented shortages.

Lastly, some food for thought – despite vehicles having all of these advanced features – including those to increase safety – accidents have only increased throughout 2013 – 2019, according to the Department of Transportation’s statistics. So…. Are they really making us any safer? Statistically, no, they’re not.

Let’s get smart, reduce the need for more than 36 chips per vehicle, and instead work towards easing inventory shortages.